SM East, SM North, Bishop Miege teams make good showings in robotics competition

The fieldhouse was packed Saturday for the 58-team robotics competition.
The fieldhouse was packed Saturday for the 58-team robotics competition.

The game requires a good offensive strategy, playing defense, shooting a ball into the goal and using teamwork on the floor to score. Team members give up part of their spring break to be in the tournament. The screaming fans fill the bleachers and it’s standing room only around the floor. The hallways are lined with university recruiters trying to lure the best talent to their schools.

The SM East robot (2335) in action Saturday.
The SM East robot (2335) in action Saturday.

Yes, it’s the FIRST Robotics Competition, which held the finals of the Kansas City regional Saturday with 58 teams competing. All of the Shawnee Mission high schools had teams competing along with Bishop Miege.

SM East, SM North and Miege teams performed well, but did not earn trips to the national championship in St. Louis in April. Each team gets a six-week period to build a robot that will solve the challenge posed that year. They start with a standard kit and work with coaches and mentors.

This year’s game was called Aerial Assist. Here is how it is described:
“(It) is played by two Alliances of three teams each. Alliances compete by trying to score as many balls in goals as possible during a two-minute and 30-second match. Additional points are earned by robots working together to score goals, and by throwing and catching balls over a truss suspended just over five feet above the floor as they move the ball down the field.”

Teams came from Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma and Arkansas in addition to those from Kansas and Missouri and the metro. Dozens of colleges that offer scholarships for FIRST Robotics students flashed across the big board. Recruiters said robotics competition was a prime opportunity to market to engineering and computer science students.

Some of the SM East team members taking their robot to the pits after a round.
Some of the SM East team members taking their robot to the pits after a round.
Members of the SM North team prepare to head onto the competition floor.
Members of the SM North team prepare to head onto the competition floor.